Frequently Asked Questions
Acupuncture is generally pain free, though there can be some sensation on the skin when the needle is first inserted. This sensation most often goes away, and is replaced by a sense of heaviness, pulsing, relief of pressure, which we equate with energy moving through acupuncture channels. If a patient is ever in any discomfort, let your practitioner know so they can adjust or remove needles if needed.
The needles are generally retained for 30-45minutes for maximum effectiveness. Pediatric needling is different, please see #3.
Pediatric wellness treatments can include acupuncture but often begins with Shonishin treatments to stimulate acupuncture points usually done with shells, rocks, small tools, and warming sticks (tiger warmers). Also, pediatric massage is given to stimulate acupuncture channels. If children are receptive, “Butterfly Kisses” or small, gentle pediatric acupuncture needles are inserted briefly in and out, not retained as in adults. This approach is for children 7yrs old or younger. When a child 7yrs or older feels ready to try retaining the needles we can try retaining needles for 10-20min. Chinese Herbal medicine is also prescribed if needed.
4. Cupping is another Traditional Chinese Medicine healing modality. It is done with various sizes of glass or plastic cups applied to certain fleshy areas along the back, limbs, and neck with vacuum suction. Cupping is done to help relieve pain and to help disperse a common cold/cough that has lodged itself stubbornly in the back and chest. The cups are retained for 10min or sooner if need be, and circles of varying colors of pink, red, purple, red-flecked will be left behind lasting up to 1-2weeks. This “shay” is considered to be a sign that the area is opening up and the pain or cough/cold is being dispersed. The cupping sensation can be compared to the sensation of a deep tissue massage. Cupping done for pediatric purposes is done quickly and gently if a child is receptive, and is very effective to treating coughs, colds, and fevers.
Moxabustion or “Moxa”, is an herbal warming treatment using Chinese Mugwort. Moxa treatment is a healing modality used in many Asian cultures. It’s main use is to warm and stimulate acupuncture points and areas of the body that may feel cold/cool or painful on the body. Moxa comes in various forms including pole moxa, raw moxa, direct moxa, tiger warmers, and moxa pots. The smoke version of moxa has a strong earthy scent, and the smokeless version smells of incense. Both are effective at amplifying an acupuncture point with our without a needle inserted at the sight.
A suggestion of 5-10 treatments is generally recommended to give the body ample opportunity to respond to Acupuncture. For acute health concerns perhaps 1-3 treatments only may be needed. For more long-term chronic health issues several treatment series may be needed in conjunction with other healing modalities to achieve desired results. Everyone’s body heals at a different pace, generally the longer the health issue has been a concern, the more complex it may be to obtain results. In this case it’s important to give acupuncture a chance to integrate through a series of treatments over time. In many instances patients receiving regular acupuncture find that they are better able to manage chronic pain, feel more energized, experience less frequent colds/flues, are able to relax more easily and experience less tension overall.
This is a difficult question to answer, as everyone’s bodies and their responses to acupuncture and herbal treatments vary tremendously. Generally people tend to see some response within the first 24-48hours. A positive healing response can last hours, days, and months, depending on the nature of the imbalance/health issue.
There can sometimes be side effects from inserting needles, but these are rare. These potential side effects can include achiness and bruising at the site of a needle insertion. If this occurs be sure to let your practitioner know so they can advise you how best to care for the site.
Chinese medicine pills are generally tasteless. Flavors of Chinese tinctures and teas vary greatly, ranging from bitter, spicy, sour and sweet. In Chinese herbal medicine, the flavor is associated with certain therapeutic actions. For example, sweet tasting herbs generally tonify and harmonize the body, whereas spicy tasting herbs generally disperse and move, bitter tasting herbs drain and dry, sour tasting herbs astringe.
Side effects from herbs are rare, but they can occur. These can include looser or firmer bowels, headaches, skin rash or upset stomach. If you experience any of these be sure to contact your practitioner who will advise you what to do. For more sensitive digestive systems it is best to take herbs after meals and not on an empty stomach. Be sure your practitioner has taken a thorough health history from you, which should include information on any allergies, or sensitivities you might have.
Herbal quality is very important. I order my herbs from reputable herbal companies with GMP label and very strict regulations for heavy metals. I try to choose from herbal companies with integrity, good research behind their products and from China, and a long family tradition of practicing herbal medicine.
There is no general answer to this question other than the fact that it is very important to check labels of herbal pills and supplements carefully for pregnancy warnings. If there is any question ask your practitioner. There are many herbs that are safe to take during pregnancy, and others that are not. Working with a practitioner who is familiar and well trained in herbs for use during pregnancy should allow you to feel comfortable about what you are taking. The practitioner should be able to address your herbal safety questions. When in doubt, be cautious and check with your physician or midwife.
Acupuncture is safe to receive during pregnancy from a practitioner who knows and understands which points are to be used during the different stages of pregnancy and which points are generally not used during different stages of pregnancy. It is best if this practitioner has received additional training in the specialty acupuncture for addressing health issues during pregnancy. Ask your practitioner what his or her experience is with pregnancy-related health issues when you first make your appointment.
I do accept most health insurances. Many health insurance companies have acupuncture benefits. It is important to find out if yours does by calling the number on the back of your member card. Ask if you have acupuncture benefits, and what percentage of your treatment is covered, how many visits per calendar year you are allowed and if your deductible has been met. I will then verify this coverage. You will be expected to pay the full fee until these benefits have been verified and the first payment has been received from your insurance company. Following this first payment, a copayment will be expected at the time of service.